Zen and The Art of Ink Fade Testing

Guest Writer

Editor's Note: Leonardo left some intriguing results to his own pen fade testing in the comments of the Pen Freak post on my own Weblog. I felt this information was interesting enough to have Leonardo write up in detail, so his findings could receive more exposure on Journalisimo. Thanks Leonardo! — Mike Rohde

Important work notes on the wall of my cube were fading fast recently, so I decided to embark on a search for quality archival pens. All of the cheap ballpoint pens I've used in the past 5 years or so turn out to be faders, so I clearly needed to upgrade.

The first test-set was a card with black-pen writing, taped against a basement window for the South sun for a few weeks.

Set 1 (South window, 2 weeks)

The Zebra Sarasa and Jimnie pens were a lasting and deep black. However, they are a bit wide, even for the spec 0.7mm, run down fast, and take extra dry-time. The Sarasa is very hard to start after dis-use too. The capped Jimnie is better.

Fountain pen lovers might love the richness of Sarasa. If you can dip the tip in melting candle wax it will keep well.

The Rose-Art X500 is a pricier ball-point. It is not as dense as a gel, but the lines are small, and it hardly faded. Very nice! (for a ballpoint). Slight skip at work...not sure why.

The Pentel RSVP is a popular fancy ballpoint, and it was smooth and dense going on, but had almost completely faded away....oops! Not good for notes, methinks.

(Then I migrated to nicer pens for my tinier notes)

Set 2 (A card leaning against a fuorescent bulb, 10dy x 24hr)

The Pentel RSVP was faded badly... at this point, it was valuable as an indicator of how much light exposure there was. This was equivalent about a year on my cube wall.

The Sanford uni-ball Onyx is a popular gel office pen, very dense, and quick-drying. It takes some pressure to avoid skip until broken in, and bleeds slightly, but is a great deal if you want a cheap high-grade gel. Perhaps a bit thin for some. Anyway, its fade performance was good: still quite black, slight loss of a blue tossed in for noble looks.

The Pilot P-500: Nice steady lines, finer than other 0.5s! ...a slight 'pebbly feel'....this is the best for writing very small notes..long lines will blob..drying good. Fading: completely unaffected, like new.

Itoya XE-100PU "Xenon" writing: smooth, oily feel, nice! ...angle-sensitive, and needs pressure. Density good for ballpoint. Tip wobbles a little. This means despite the small line, it is only really good for larger writing. Slightly smudgy...lefties beware. Fading: density stayed good, but a little of the loss-of-blue like the uni-ball. Small skips showed up.

Set 3 (5 days, fluorescent bulb touching card)

The benchmark RSVP pen was well-faded.

The Pilot G2 (an 0.5) has rock-steady blackness, no fade. Nice writing too: retractable with no tip wobble!! Not quite as tiny as P-500..close though.

Uni-ball Vision Exact (0.2) to the testing. More precise than onyx..nice. Liquid ink. Lasts super, in true Sanford style. It got juicy with 2 days of use though.. ..too bleedy for my little notes. Bummer. Good for moderate cursive, larger letters.

The uni-ball Signo micro 207 ..a nice smooth pen, if not as super skip-free as the P-500. Feel is great. No fading (added-on later, after 7 days testing).

Overall Personal Opinions

Cheap ballpoints are risky these days. A big exception is the uni-ball Onyx. well worth the step-up from 20 to about 50 cents each in bulk!!

The 0.7 uniball signo 207 (non-micro) is super-smooth and crisp... that's my baby for retractable.

The P-500 is still unbeatable for tiny block-letters (hard on almost other all pens!)

The G2 is very nice, but it gets edged on precision by P-500 (its capped cousin) and by the signo on smoothness. If the P-500 cap gets annoying, I will shift the G2 0.5 — but not yet.

Notes: Sanford says capped pens are a bit easier to make skip-free than retractables... ink formulation. Also, larger Hallmark-type stores seem to carry nice pens.

Leonardo Menderes: Meander Around With Me

The New Vanishing Point

"The trim is a bright chrome, which goes well with the barrel color, a very vivid yellow. This is a color that comes quite close to the same shade used on the Parker Mandarin yellow Duofold. In other words, it's not a soft pastel yellow. Pull this pen out of your pocket and folks will know it! It practically lights up the room.

So, the new VP isn't a subtle pen. But it is a very practical one, no doubt about that. The ability to go from a closed pen to one ready to write in a split second is almost too good to be true. Push the button on the end of the barrel, and the nib slides out.

Push it again, and the nib is retracted. Safe from drying out. Click, write. Click, don't write. Click, click, click. It gets hypnotic! If you often find yourself fidgeting with stuff as you sit in meetings, the VP is the perfect pen for you. Of course, your fellow meeting attendees may end up beating you over the head and prying the thing from your fingers... "

The New Vanishing Point

by Phillip Tucker

Stylophiles Online Magazine

[via Christopher Meisenzahl]

The Blackwing 602

"The Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 has been a favorite among artists, designers and writers for many years. I have received many, many emails from users looking for them and wanting to know if they are still available. The Blackwing has been discussed in forums, and has been the subject of newspaper articles, most notably a Boston Globe article in December 2002. Buyers and sellers have been using eBay and The Pencil Pages classifieds to transact Blackwing deals, with prices exceeding $20.00 per pencil.

What is so special about this pencil that its devotees will accept no substitute and make them willing to spend $250.00 for a box of them? It has a sleek and unique design, and if you've ever used one, you know it is a very smooth-writing and easy to use pencil. Its famous slogan "Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed" is no exaggeration. It is also the last of a line of pencils featuring a distinctive rectangular ferrule with a unique, replaceable eraser. I am no artist, but I know that professionals rely on quality and consistency in the tools they use, and the Blackwing was one that could be relied upon."

Doug Martin

The Blackwing 602 - the Final Chapter

eBay Item

Vintage Eberhard Faber Blackwing Pencils . 10 pencil mint with box

[Thanks John G.]

Book Factory

"BookFactory is making use of some exciting new technology and processes to bring you archival quality books, custom made to your specifications, in quantities you really need, at lower costs than you are used to paying.

Founded and run by engineers and inventors, the folks at BookFactory understand the importance of quality notebooks for protecting your Intellectual Property. The construction of your notebook needs to be solid with sewn section binding to prevent tampering and acid-free archival safe paper to protect your work. The pages should be numbered with signature blocks for witnesses to sign Disclosed to and Understood By statements on your inventions. We are intimate with the documentation requirements of the U.S. Patent Office and the FDA and we understand why companies often need sequential book numbering on their notebook covers as well as book numbers printed on the pages of their books.

Book Factory

[via LS]


This is so cool I'm re-posting it from Moleskinerie:

"The first practical fountain pen was invented in 1884 by Lewis Waterman. Although pens with self-contained ink reservoirs had existed for more than a hundred years before his invention, they suffered from ink leaks and other troubles. Waterman solved these problems by inventing the capillary feed which produced even ink flow. Now fountain pen history is repeating itself in the tiny world of nanoscale writing.

Researchers at Northwestern University have demonstrated writing at the sub-100 nanometer molecular scale in fountain-pen fashion. They developed a novel atomic force microscope (AFM) probe chip with an integrated microfluidic system for capillary feeding of molecular ink.


[Thanks Mike Shea!]

Notepads Rule

"I tried (and loved) the Moleskine notebook, but it didn't work for me as a note taking implement (though it is perfect as a journal or diary).

My favored technique was inspired by David Allen's use of legal pads, which allowed him to tear things off and put them in "In." Here is what I do:

I carry around a spiral notebook with micro-perforated pages, and take all my notes in there... I prefer notebooks by a company called "Notebound" because they are cheap and durable, but look professional enough for a high-level business meeting. They also have a plastic pocket inside, which is good for stashing a couple of business cards and to serve as a traveling inbox when I don't have my red folder with me. I can also put temporary things like directions, etc. that I've printed out to help me get where I'm going. I can find these at Walgreen's for around $5 for the 10.5" x 8.5" size (120 or 160 page versions are available).

Here's where these are different from those beautiful Moleskine's: As I process the pages, I can tear them out and a) discard them, b) put the action items into my Outlook task list, c) file them, d) hand them off to someone else..."

Dwane Melancon

Genuine Curiosity

25 Years of Post-It Notes

"On April 6, 1980, though, the endless and complicated march of progress took a short break as a remarkable new technology arrived in stationery stores around the nation. It was so simple to use, even a CEO could master it. It was so perfectly designed, it didn’t require semi-annual upgrades. It was so versatile, it actually performed better than advertised. It was the Post-it Note.

Two and a half decades later, as the little yellow notes celebrate their silver anniversary, it’s easy to forget what a recent innovation they are. Thanks to their material simplicity, they seem more closely related to workplace antiquities like the stapler and the hole-punch than integrated chips. Instead, they’re an exemplary product of their time. Foreshadowing the web, they offered an easy way to link one piece of information to another in a precisely contextual way. Foreshadowing email, they made informal, asynchronous communication with your co-workers a major part of modern office life."

The Rake

Image: Damon's New Office, Interactive Tools

Basic French

"The thing I love most about France is the style of living. Somehow, it just seems right - drinking good strong coffee in the morning with a croissant or pain au chocolat, eating a long lunch en plein air and really savoring good fresh food, drinking delicious, inexpensive wine or a cardinale as an aperitif before a late dinner, and being in a place so incredibly beautiful that each time you turn a corner you are in awe. I'm thinking first of Paris, though as I sit looking out the window here in Montbrey, or remember Audrey's house (the former rectory of a nearby church) near Annecy, I am in love with the french countryside. And the language - I love the French language."

Basic French

Check out their books and stationery section

April 22, 2005 in Writing Accouterments | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stypen Elite Fountain Pens

"Stypen Elite fountain pens feature a retractable nib! Innovative design is reminiscent of early safety pens. The Stypen Elite uses standard short international ink cartridges, one is included with each pen. Stypen Up measures 4.5 inches long. Available in medium steel iridium nib in a variety of finishes.

Obtainable in a fountain /roller pen set, as well as individually."


Shirt Pocket Briefcase

"Use our slender pocket-size leather note pad to take notes when you're mobile. With separate pockets for fresh and completed 3 x 5 cards, our Shirt Pocket Briefcase will help you keep notes in order."



[Thanks LS]

Pen Freak

"Yes, I'm a pen freak. I'm that guy at the pen section, mumbling about pen tip sizes, gel inks and barrel design. It's been an addiction of mine since grade school days, when Parker Jotter retractable ball pens were all the rage.

In high school, I became a fan of Flair pens for drawing and writing. I used to eat through those pens, drawing, writing reports and for everyday use. I read somewhere that Quentin Tarantino uses Flairs to write his scripts.

In my college days, when I was introduced to fountain pens. My design and drawing instructor, Mr. Bonifay, was a total sketch freak, toting his huge 12 x 14 bound black sketchbook with hundreds of drawings in it. Odd thing was, he religiously used a simple, black Sheaffer fountain pen..."


A Deaf Guy’s Take

"It feels good to write at all. Writers love writing; they’re drawn to the empty page like moths to a flickering flame. However, nothing makes a writer feel as good as when they finally find their pen and their paper. With the right pen and paper, the joy in writing becomes much more than the sum of the component parts.

I’ve been looking for years for the right pen and the right paper for me. It was seeming like a fruitless and expensive task.

So I ordered a Moleskine notebook and while I can appreciate why some people like these, it just was not right for me. It’s a decently put together notebook for sure, but the pages seemed just a little too thin and the binding just a little too insubstantial. It was better than the standard higher-than-school-quality loose leaf sheet paper I was using, but it wasn’t quite perfect.

So I continued to search, while using the Moleskine, and stumbled across a site that sold Journals. These ones looked substantial. They offered more pages than the Moleskine (I tend to write in a single location, so portability was not a huge deciding factor for me) and they just looked better."

A Deaf Guy's Take

[Thanks Leslie]


""MUJI Fountain Pen -- Yesterday I went to the new Muji store in Stockholm, located in the Åhléns City department store. They had some nice stationery products and I bought this cool Aluminium Barrell Fountain Pen (the perfect pen for my moleskine?). The image is from the Japanese site at muji.net. View a larger image on my flickr page and check out the Stationery Photo Gallery at Muji UK."

Stockholm, Sweden.


"When you first use the PenAgain™, you'll immediately notice how different it feels from other pens. This is a natural feeling because your hand is trying to unlearn a lifetime of poor writing habits. It's not your fault.

Until now, pens have typically been designed with only two things in mind: money and manufacturability. But the PenAgain's primary focus is comfort.

The human hand dictates the design. Even though it may feel strange, try to resist the urge to grip the pen with your fingers. Just let your hand relax, and let the weight of your hand hold the pen in place. You'll feel tension of writing melt away."


[Thanks JC!]

Paying Royalty for Paper

"If Cai Lun, the inventor of paper had ed his invention like Bill Gates with his OS, we’ll have a big problem today. We would end up having to pay for patent or on every sheet of paper we used. Just imagine having to pay royalty charges each time you wrap up your business in the toilet! Thank god for bestowing the Chinese with the ancient wisdom rather than the business geniuses like Bill Gates, otherwise we’ll have to really worry about making ENDS meet first thing in the morning.”

Looking through my tea cup

Ten Answers

" Q. You had a large handbag with you at the [Yankees World Series] game. What was in it?

A. A Hermes address book with an extensible very thin silver pencil; and two other pencils--a black ball-point (my name stamped in gold), retractable, made by a veteran who is paralyzed below the chest, who makes and sells a variety of eye-catchers as a living--Hal McColl, 101 West Club Boulevard, Durham, North Carolina. I occasionally order a pen set of him since it doesn't scratch or exude spiders. In case it gave out, I had a Dixon Ticonderoga with brass cap; had a Standard ring-topped notebook and a little thing of fifteen pages with a glazed white cover, souvenir of Unz & Co., Stationers, 24 Beaver Street, New York City--given me for a trip but saved for a single special event. Then I had a miniature pair of black plastic binoculars weighing an ounce and three-quarters--bought by mail to watch a bluejay that for two or three years had preempted a catalpa tree in a backyard adjacent to my back windows. I like to startle it by imitating it, so that it gives a sharp look round and answers uncertainly. It stays all winter.

Question by man of letters George Plimpton, answer by poet Marianne Moore, from "Ten Answers: Letters from an October Afternoon, Part II," Harper’s, 229 (November 1964).

[via Michael Leddy]

Life Editions

"Life Editions is a bindery in my old town of Fremantle, Western Australia, which produces some incredibly beautiful-looking work. I discovered them while searching for an old friend online. I wish I’d known about them when I was back recently: I would have stopped by just to see some of this work in person. If it’s this good-looking on-screen, imagine what it must be like to hold in your hands.

The website is still a work in progress (as they all should be be) and the navigation and content is maybe still being worked out, but pay them a visit and take a look at some absolutely stunning work."



[Thanks Christine!]

A Pencil Is a Gardener's Best Friend

"Caffeine jitters, arthritis, and trifocal lenses are a nuisance when you're trying to sow a few seeds. Most seeds are small, very small, making it awkward to pick them up and, try as we might, plant them according to the package instructions. And then there's [ahhh, CHOO!] the occasional accident that sends them flying everywhere. The pencil is at your service.

Starting seeds indoors is a ritual that many gardeners look forward to as the official kick-off of the growing season. You browse through catalogs, order your seeds and then fill containers with potting soil. Yet, there's one little hiccup that threatens to dampen this near religious experience. It happens somewhere between tearing open a packet of seeds and transferring its contents to the waiting soil.

Making a pinch of seeds go where you want them to go is like trying to mobilize a litter of kittens. Or men, for that matter. It takes patience and persistence. Seed packets provide only basic instructions, such as "Sow seeds sparingly over the soil," or, "As seed is very fine, they should be barely covered with soil." I'm afraid it's easier read than done."

A Pencil Is a Gardener's Best Friend

From seed-sowing tool to swizzle stick!


Write Places

"Elemeno House

Specifications: About 50sf, 8’ x 6’ x 11’, 3500lbs

This is a streamlined version of the 6x8 Front Gable. The interior design at right takes its name from the Buddhist story of Hojoki which translates to “The 10 Foot Square Hut.” While the tiny structure shown here is actually quite a bit smaller than 10’x10’, it does embody the same virtue of simplicity that the hut in the story represents. Hojoki is identical to Greg, except that the loft is 2 feet shorter in length; the exterior details are replaced by unadorned metal siding; and the porch folds up for even greater mobility."

You know you have reached perfection of design not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away. --Antoine de'Exupery

"My name is Jay Shafer, and I live in a house smaller than some people’s bathrooms. I call my tiny home Tumbleweed. My decision to inhabit just 100 square feet arose from some concerns I had about the impact a larger house would have on the environment, and because I just do not want to maintain a lot of unused or unusable space. Tumbleweed meets all of my domestic needs without demanding much in return. The simple, slower lifestyle my home affords is a luxury for which I am supremely grateful.

Since completing the construction of Tumbleweed in 1999, I have continued to make little buildings. How each house gets used depends on its occupant’s particular needs. What one person would enjoy as a quiet studio in their backyard, another couple might choose to inhabit as a full-time residence. What some people see as the perfect weekend hideaway in the country, others will use as a beautiful free-standing addition to their existing home for accommodating an elderly parent, an adult child, guests, or as office space."

Tumbleweed Houses

More at MeFi

"Les Subtiles"

"Known as "Les Subtiles", each ink is lightly scented, matching fragrance and color: bleu/parfum lavande /10; vert/parfum pomme /34; amber/parfum orange /41; rouge/parfum rose /68; and violet/parfume violette /77

For fountain pens and glass pens


Presented in elegant semi-frosted 30 ml/1 oz. bottles"

"Les Subtiles" - The Subtle (Scented Inks)

eBay Item


Starting bid: US $800.00

Time left: 2 days 21 hours

10-day listing, Ends Feb-12-05 15:25:59 PST

Start time: Feb-02-05 15:25:59 PST

History: 0 bids

Item location: Thun


Ships to: Worldwide

Shipping costs: Check item description and payment instructions or contact seller for details"

eBay Item


"A pencil can generate megabytes of text, needs no batteries, and has no user manual. It is comfortable to hold, it smells good, and it is relaxing to turn around in your hand as you try to think of the right words. Pencils don't need ink; all they need is a sharpener. They are warm and friendly; they have souls.

I've long been a pencil fan, and, even if I'm writing these words on my iBook, I have several pencils next to me. I use them to doodle and sketch, or to jot down ideas as I brainstorm. Much more than pens, the pencil has character: it comes from nature - from trees and the soil - and it is rooted in the deeper subconscious as a tool that has lasted for some two centuries.

But not just any pencil will do. I've tried out most of the pencils I have come across, and my quest ended when I bought a box of Derwent Graphic pencils, in assorted hardnesses, and eventually discovered the sensual feel of the 3B pencil. The soft lead of the 3B lets me write with no impediments, as the words almost ooze out of my hand. Combined with a yellow legal pad, I can think of no better word processor.

Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools


"To protect your notebook from rain, dunks in Venetian canals, and other liquid hazards, place it in an 4.5 inch by 7 inch Aloksak (by Watchful Eye Designs), which is like a super heavy-duty ziplock bag. The Moleskine with Bullet Pen attached will fit perfectly into this bag.

To easily remove the journal from the bag, push against the bottom of the notebook with your thumbs, while holding the bag and notebook in both hands between your first and middle fingers. If you angle the bag so that the opening is pointing down, the weight of the pen will also help pull the notebook out of the bag."

WanderLyte's Compact Travel Kit

Link: Aloksak/Watchful Eye

Archives: Quill Bill

"It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword -- and in Quentin Tarantino's case, the pen is mightier than the computer when it comes to scripting his signature creative genius. It's a little known fact that Quentin Tarantino hand writes all of his scripts with a set of three red and three black retro-styled Flair pens. It's no wonder that the Paper Mate black and red Flairs were given a "supporting role" in Kill Bill Vol. 1 as Uma Thurman's weapon of choice when she composes her hit list -- laying the premise for Kill Bill Vol.2. When discussing his writing stylei, the moviemaker affirmed, "I'm not superstitious in my normal life, but I kind of get superstitious about the methods of writing ... it's the way I started doing it, so that becomes the way. My rituals are that I don't use a typewriter or a computer. I write by hand, and what I'll do - it's a ceremony, actually - I go to a stationery store and I buy a notebook. Then, I'll buy a bunch of red and black felt pens. And I'm like, 'These are the pens that I'm going to write Kill Bill with!'" Kill Bill Vol. 1 has been nominated for three 2004 MTV Movie Awards, including Best Female Performance, Best Villain and Best Fight. The awards are set to air June 10th."

"Tarantino Proves The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword"

Sanford Corp. Press Release

[via John]

Simple Organic Glue

"At the dinner table, my father was very clear on how a bowl of steamed rice was to be left after eaten—completely empty. Leave one grain of rice either inside or on the outside of the bowl and there would be h*ll to pay. In Japan there is a popular myth of the mottainai obake, or spirit of the waste, that would come and haunt you upon your committing a deed of wastefulness. This spirit never had to come and visit me as my dad seemed to be its local (unpaid) Seattle representative.

Do you have those magical moments when the US Postal Office makes a mistake and delivers a piece of mail where the stamp is not postmarked? I have a little pile of these clipped freebies on my shelf, but I never seem to have the opportunity to use them.

One time when I was visiting my family's home in Seattle, my father took a grain of steamed rice, smooshed it, and stuck one of my free stamps to an envelope. He proudly said, "That's how we used to do it in the old days. And that's why you shouldn't waste any rice." Now if only I had some grains of rice in my office at MIT, I might be able to finally get rid of my windfall of free postage ... but then again I don't want to attract any ants."


1001 Ink Bottles

"We offer a wide selection of individual vintage ink bottles and collections.

Our Labeled Bottle section includes Carter, Waterman, Parker and hundreds of smaller brands from Greece, Spain, China, Japan and other exotic locations.

We also stock a large selection of Traveling Bottles in Wood, Metal and BHR.

Unlabeled Bottles include both 19th and 20th century bottles.

We currently have over 50 collections for sale."

1001 Ink Bottles


"A yatate (pronounced yah-tah-teh) is a Japanese portable writing set. The yatate has been around since the Kamakura period (1185-1333). It contains a traditional Japanese bamboo brush and an ink pot filled with cotton which holds liquid sumi ink.

Yatate literally means "arrow stand."

The Japanese traditional way of writing is with a brush (fude) and ink (sumi). Before the invention of the yatate, whenever anyone wanted to write or draw in ink, he had to make his own ink by grinding the ink stick in water on the grinding stone (suzuri). This method has been used for many centuries, and is still being used today.

Warriors (samurai) often had to write letters and reports from the field, and so carried a small grinding stone in a small drawer at the bottom of their quiver along with the arrows."

Russ Stutler

"What is a Yatate?"

I think these things are so cool. Tried bidding in one of Russ' auctions on eBay but lost.

Commentaries on Cheap Pens

A series of  commentaries on pre-G2 "cheap pens" by Phil Agre. Retro, lengthy and no pictures but worth the read:

"For many years I have done most of my work by writing with an actual pen in artists' sketch pads. As a result, I have become I am a serious connoisseur of cheap pens, the kind that're lots better than those nasty standard-issue pens but lots cheaper than those heirloom pens that're really for symbolism and not for writing anyway. You can get these things in art supply stores for a couple of bucks. (I'm also a connoisseur of artists' sketch pads; the best are made by Canson, and so far as I can tell, you cannot get a good sketch pad outside of the United States.)

Just this year, the world of cheap pens was revolutionized by disposable liquid-ink pens. As someone who spends hours a day writing on actual paper, I can't tell you what an improvement they are. The reason is simple: it's liquid ink, not that nasty viscous stuff that's always clotting up, and so it flows much more smoothly onto the page. They're also more entertaining than regular pens, since they include a window onto the ink reservoir. While I was travelling, I went to art supply stores in several countries looking for them, and the best was the Reynolds model, which I could only find in a single art supply store in Nice, France. (Reynolds makes a lot of other, more garden-variety pens, which are distributed more widely. Forget them.) I did find some other pens that are almost as good. The most widely distributed is the Uni-Ball Eye (called Vision in the United States), which has the advantage of coming in a range of slighly unusual saturated colors. Another good model is the Pilot V-Ball, although its barrel is a little too skinny to be comfortable. You can get a disposable fountain pen, too, the Pilot Varsity, but much like regular fountain pens it's way too much trouble.


[Thanks Emil Sit]

The Presidential Pen

"Since President Truman, presidents and others associated with the presidency have had official specially imprinted pens, and pencils (sometimes with presentation boxes) variously used to sign official papers, as gifts, for office use, and to commemorate. Beginning with the Truman administration each administration has had new and different pens so that there are now several hundred varieties. This book, based on the author's collection and consultation with each of the presidential libraries and museums, is a history and a fully illustrated, annotated and close to complete catalogue of these pens. With only few exceptions, each known pen, pencil and presentation box is described and shown in an approximately full sized black and white image. Those known pieces for which no image is available are fully described.  The relative rarity or lack thereof of the various pens is noted throughout the book   Special attention is given on how to distinguish between different varieties of similar pens, including false, pseudo varieties that can be constructed using commercial pen parts and on how to distinguish between official, replica and commercial pens. Parker pens have played an important role since John F. Kennedy and care has been given to provide complete coverage of Parker's half century involvement with the White House."

The Presidential Pen - The First Fifty Years

Pen Clips?

Joachim left a link to a Japanese site with this nifty pen clip with a holder for 2 pens.   Further Googling led to an "Aluminum Pen  with Terry Clip" at the MUT (Museum of Useful Things). 


"A.G. Spaulding Bros. Aluminum barreled roller ball pen with cover has a brushed aluminum finish.  Rollerball refills available.  Size: 5" long.  Terry Clip for pens and pencils made in England."

Perfect for the notebook, if you can get it. If not, consider Sean Gerety's hack.


Stationery Program (Japanese)



"With its abundant forests and clear streams, the Japanese environment was highly suited to papermaking, and the Japanese people, who respected nature and its cyclical changing of seasons, took pleasure in making fine papers and using them beautifully. By the time the government moved to Edo (now Tokyo), paper mills around the country were producing papers characteristic of each region. The common people used these papers widely and in this way paper became part of daily life, adding both convenience and beauty, and washi reached its zenith around the 17th century."

Living with Washi

Kansai Window


Here's a nice little site about paper making in Japan. For some reason, I've always loved the smell of paper. The scent of a new book has an irresistible aroma. It’s just a matter of time before somebody comes up with a "new book smell” spray or a "washi" candle, perhaps.

Parker Jotter 50th Anniversary

"Parker recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the best selling Parker Jotter with three special Jubilee anniversary editions.

In 1946 Kenneth Parker wrote a letter to Time magazine stating that he resented the notion that the Parker Pen Co. was napping because it didn't have a product in the exploding ballpoint pen market. Unknown was the fact that Parker had been researching and developing ballpoint pen since the 1940’s.

"As long as two years ago, our management realized-between naps-that we could make a quick, fast bulge in sales and profits by marketing a ball pen." Kenneth Parker predicted with a short statement…"If and when Parker brings out a ball pen, it won't resemble anything now on the market."

After waiting almost nine years to enter the ballpoint market Parker put the Jotter into production in just 90 days. This project was the responsibility of Daniel Parker and on December 22, 1953 “Operation Scramble” was launched. This was a rush to production and the first Jotters emerged from Janesville January 5, 1954 and was priced at $2.95."

Parker Jotter 50th Anniversary

Long before G2s, these pens used to be the workhorse. Its nice to see them remembered albeit in a  poignant way.

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